Last year was the first time James and I had ever attempted ‘serious’ gardening, We had some great successes, quite a few failures and we spent an inordinate amount of money. Here are some things that we learnt from the experience:
Make your own compost – It really is a massive cost saver and is sooo easy. If I can refer you back to my previous posts on compost, you can sometimes actually order a compost bin from local councils for about £15 If not, DIY stores, amazon.com, ebay and your local garden centre are all good places to look. Then, just throw your garden waste, old tea bags, vegetable peelings, old fruit and vegetables and egg shells into it, and try to also add layers of cardboard (I used the cardboard from my amazon delivery boxes) and newspaper now and then. We started doing ours last year and it should be ready for us to use this year, meaning we dont have to buy bags of compost and plant feed to dig into the soil, we have our own free supply already!
Growing things from seed is trial and error but cheaper than buying plants! – I started a lot of our vegetable plants from seed last year and the majority of the plants worked well. However, dont do too many lettuce than you need (we did FAR too many and most of them rotted in the ground), spring onions didnt work at all for us last year but that may be due to me planting too many seeds in one tray, and seed tomatoes grew quite weak and spindly ( the actual tomato plants that we bought did much better).
Building a raised bed is EXPENSIVE – Fair play to all those lucky gardeners who salvage big pieces of wood to construct raised beds from, we got ours from a trade gardener’s store and they still cost us almost £150 all in all to buy. You can get smaller ready made ones and if I was to have any more in the garden, I would buy lots of the smaller ready made ones instead. It isnt just the wood either, the cost of the soil, compost etc needed to fill it soon mounts up. I am really glad that we have ours as anything that is planted in there seems to really thrive, but I am not sure we would repeat the experience, not to mention the cost.
Plants cant get enough water, especially in Summertime – Last summer it felt like all we did was constantly walk around the garden watering plants. How our water bill didnt rise extortionately, I do not know. Hanging baskets especially need LOADS of water, particularly in the 25 degree plus heat that sometimes we are lucky enough to get.
Supermarkets are a great source of cheap garden plants, tools and seeds – Morrisons in particular was amazing last year, and our garden is full of plants that we bought which I hope will really flourish this year. Strawberry plants and pumpkin plants are only £1 and packets of seeds about 75p.
Timing, position and feeding the soil are really important – By timing I mean what time of year is the best time to plant different things, by position I mean where you are going to plant something, i.e in sun, partial shade, under a tree etc. By feeding the soil I mean that it is extremely important to ‘dig things in’ to your garden soil, this could be compost,manure or even special plant food. The advice that you receive on these different things should not be ignored.
I hope these bits of advice help you, too.